Category Archives: San Agustin

Traveling from San Agustin to Popayan

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Happy April! Traveling day! San Augustin to Popayan, which is a little backtracking through one of the worst roads I’ve ever ridden on.

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There were two options for crossing the ecuadorian border from San Augustin.

Option 1: Stay south from where we were, however that included some minor potentially dangerous options, and some pretty amazing options. Moca the town we could of visited is known as “the gateway to the jungle” and to visit the Colombian jungle would of been amazing. That was just one bus away. Then you would have to hire a driver to who owns a truck to get you across 6 hours on “the trampoline of death” road as it is a one-way dirt road that is on the ledge of cliffs which in one second toucan easily slip off of. This part didn’t sit we’ll with me, and the fact to hire a driver is quite pricey. The buses are more dangerous to take on that road and are advised against taking. Then the final straw was that we heard a traveler in Jan of 2013 get into some trouble with the paramilitary and said that its not worth traveling as they pose a threat and have been known to steal and mistreat people on their way to the border.

Option 2: Backtrack back to Popayan, and then take a bus to Pasto and then cross the border from there. This is a typical way of getting to Ecuador and recommended. So we decided to do this instead. Seemed faster, cheaper and less potentially dangerous situations.

Out of San Augustin it’s important to but a ticket one or two days in advance. There are few busses and every “day of” inquiry we had, they were always full. We eventually bought a ticket to Popayan with the bus company Cootranslaboyana Ltda- estelar. It is the second bus station from the corner with the tourist information sign. Don’t ever ever go with this bus company. They straight up lied to Steven and I and overcharged as there were more stops than discussed and the bus was one hour later than discussed. It’s one thing to be late, and its another thing to lie about it blatantly. They literally told us the exact opposite of the truth. Really rubbed me the wrong way.

The bus ride was 4 hours but can be anywhere from 3.5 – 6.5 hours so be sure to check what type of vehicle you are traveling in and how many people will be on that bus. Definitely makes a difference. The ticket was $30,000 for two ($15.00 USD).

In Popayan at the bus terminal we caught another bus to Pasto which was a 5.5 hours. It cost $20,000 COP ($10.00 USD). You can definitely negotiate the price a bit, especially if there are two or more people traveling together. It was a long and windy road, also tough after a previous 6 hour bus ride.

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San Agustin – The tombs of the forgotten

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Stolen by tomb raider the hundreds of tombs from the rolling hills of San Agustin, the stone figures of the region represent a culture long forgotten.

There are about 10 different sites in the region to view these mysterious sculptures. Each figure representing something different than the rest. The tombs laid on display above ground for viewing. Many of the figures had stone tablets laid across the figures or behind. Some were beneath the ground as well.

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My favorite part of the tour was the fuente de lavapatas which was volcanic rock that had flowing water from a stream manipulated and then carvings of animals, people and designs that we’re important to the culture. Just amazing.

The only thing that bothered us seeing over 150 sculptures there was no information on the artifacts or the people if the area. All we were told was what the figures looked like and nothing more! They say that the society that built them was gone before anyone can remember. What a shame right?

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So my friends and I are asking a lot of questions. Why do they display the figures the way that they do? A lot of this doesn’t seem like its protecting he artifacts, rather exploiting them and ruining them. Are there more tombs undiscovered? Who owns these statues and why are many of them shipped to Berlin? Why did the archeologists excavate the area the way they did? None of it made sense.

We left feeling a little disappointed as even some of the tombs seemed too placed and not authenticate. What we discovered later was that no one knows anything about it because no one has made an effort to understand it. We met a man who has lived in San Augustin for 35 years who has been the first documenting the statutes and writing text about each one. It almost seems as if these beautiful pieces are going to rot away as they are not being protected or thought about in a long term sense.

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None the less I was so incredibly happy to be in San Agustin and witness what I did. We continued the day seeing many different places with artifacts and two waterfalls. This place is quite magical and lovely to visit. Definitely worth the trip.

The tour for a 8 hour tour of the land and waterfalls cost $30,000 COP ($15.00 USD). The entrance to the archeological park which was a wristband you can take to all entrances.